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New play explores infamous Rolling Stones' comments about Invercargill

He was once writing scripts for Shortland Street, but now he's writing award-winning plays about Invercargill.

Playwright Steven Page, who has been living in Invercargill for the past eight years, recently picked up an award at the Adam NZ Play awards for his newest play, Fool to Cry.

Taking the audience down two different timelines, 1965 and 2004, the play explores the dynamics of the committee in charge of putting together Invercargill's 150th celebration.

Page said he was inspired when Mick Jagger's signature was found scrawled on a wall in the Civic Theatre from the Rolling Stones' 1965 concert in the town and Jagger, though some say it was it Keith Richards, called Invercargill the "arsehole of the world".

"It's about [the main characters] facing up to how their own lives have turned out since," he said.

"It just appealed to me, a bit of abuse from a rock and roll artist that we'd much rather forget about but it keeps popping up."

A comedy drama, Page wanted to assure people who had been on the real life 150th committee wouldn't be seeing themselves popping up as characters in the play.

After making a film documentary about the Rolling Stones' visit while he was doing a digital media degree at the Southern Institute of Technology, Page decided to take the project a bit further.

His piqued interest payed off and Page was awarded highly commended for Fool to Cry at the Adam NZ Play Awards earlier this month.

To some, a highly commended award might not sound like much, but when there are only four top awards and a handful of commendations given out and more than 70 plays vying for a share of the glory, it's a big deal.

Page only started writing plays last year – Fool to Cry being his first.

"To get an award for Fool to Cry was a pleasant surprise and a nice confidence booster," he said.

It's been a fast-moving journey for Page. He's only finished writing the play after working on it for a few months last year and it's already making its way on to the stage, opening in time for the Southland Festival of the Arts next month.

Directed by David Pottinger, Page said their first rehearsal with a cast of seven took place at the beginning of the week and he was grateful for the Southland inspiration.

"Invercargill's been very good to me," he said.

"There's always inspiration if you look hard enough."

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